How often do we deny the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
There's the ultimate denial of the power of the Holy Spirit (which is what II Timothy 3:5 is really talking about) which produces an unbeliever. God tells us to avoid people who act religious but have no power. That's pretty strong stuff!! But those are the people who want to entangle us in legalism--to the rules and regulations of religion. There's a reason God wants us to avoid them--that's not what He wants for our lives! He came to break us out of that bondage and bring us life and freedom! Jesus called these legalists a brood of vipers. He's pretty serious about avoiding these people.
But then there's the believer who avoids the power of the Holy Spirit. That was me for years. I grew up in a denomination which taught us to fear the Holy Spirit. We were all about the Word (which is good--but is full of the Holy Spirit, by the way!). My denomination saw the abuses in other denominations (which threatened to spill over into ours) and it snapped down its tent corners so the Holy Spirit knew He wasn't welcome. Were there abuses in those other denominations? Yes. But I wonder which is worse--people who are open to the Holy Spirit and imagine things He hasn't instigated or people who never allow Him in? The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and won't go where He's not welcome. But let me also say here that there were denominations teaching the truth about the Holy Spirit during that time and walking in freedom.
Jesus told us the Holy Spirit was coming and he would teach us, guide us, counsel us, help us, comfort us, bring truth from the Father to us, strengthen us, and intercede and advocate for us. And yet many believers walk alone--without all of that help. They've rejected the power of the Holy Spirit. They want to do it themselves. And they can; He lets them. But what that means is they never have the power of the Spirit working in their lives and they will never have the fruit of the Spirit. We can't "work up" the fruit ourselves...it's a natural overflow from allowing the Holy Spirit to have control of our lives.
I remember when I went to God and opened my heart and confessed to Him, "God, You're going to have to help me. I'm afraid of the Holy Spirit. I don't want to be, but I am. Please help me get past my fear and receive all He has for me." That's all it takes. God very gently began opening my heart to see the power that was available to me.
But it's a battle--because it's all about control. Do I give up and allow the Spirit to control my life (walking in the Spirit) or do I control myself (walking in the flesh)? I've been walking in the Spirit for many years now, but I still have to make a conscious choice to ask for the power of the Spirit in my life--and submit to it. I can be going along and realize I'm making lots of decisions for myself, my ministry, my family which are pure flesh--what I can do. It shakes me! Because I want to see the power of God--what only He can do in my life and all around me.
There are some books I can recommend. I'm reading Spirit Rising by Jim Cymbala right now. Years ago, I read Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere and intend to re-read it this week. Last week, Zach told me about The Holy Spirit--an Introduction by John Bevere. It will be next on my reading list.
I encourage you to open your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit. There's power when you do!